numbing out & losing trust in ourselves
As I reflect on the past year, I’m noticing how much time I’ve spent running, hiding, scrolling... I don’t think I’m alone in this. In fact, I know I’m not. And I also know that the social/political situation we find ourselves in here in the U.S. (and beyond) is not going to resolve itself overnight. That the temptation to turn ourselves off as an attempt to regulate what we feel we cannot emotionally metabolize is REAL. But it is also scary and lonely and self-perpetuating. So the question becomes: even though most of us can fill our time (and our minds, temporarily) with all kinds of things—cookies, frenetic busyness, wine, and ever-smaller screens—do we actually want to?
Here’s the challenge I’ve come up with for myself: to let my heart break over things that are heartbreaking. To not defend myself against the reality that this over-distanced thing we call “news” sometimes touches the rawest edges of my own fear and rage and hurt. Because if the cost of “protecting” ourselves is that high—if it costs us this fundamental connection to our own feelings; our own intuition and wisdom and hope and pain, that is too high. (I say this with full respect for the fact that each of us has to navigate what/how much to let this stuff in for ourselves—it is not lost on me that I have enough privilege, in lots of ways, to be pretty well insulated from a lot of the heartbreak on a daily-life level.) But my strong intention for this new year, is to feel it. Not just long enough to make a call or a donation or some small bit of reflexive “difference”, but to feel it long/deeply enough to renew a certain trust in myself. The trust that I can handle it—that I can handle letting it in, letting it change me; letting it change. Trust in my own grief & integration process, and trust in my resilience. I support clients in this process regularly—but trusting myself to do it, especially when I most need to, is another thing entirely.
When we run/numb/hide, we are essentially confirming a pretty dangerous false belief: one that says, “I can’t tolerate this.” Over time, this choice to bail on the hard stuff erodes our self trust—it solidifies this fear disguised as truth: that we are not strong enough to be with what is real, that we cannot survive it; that we are too fragile for the sharp edges of our own lives. But we aren’t. YOU aren’t. Trusting ourselves is one of the things that makes us strong. And repairing trust that we’ve damaged or broken with ourselves is deep, dirty, courageous work.
Here are the reminders that I (think most of us) need:
1. The more we trust ourselves, the more we can actually “handle”.
2. The more we run, the more opportunities to build trust (and capacity) we lose.
3. The more we practice staying with what is real (and not compulsively fending off heartbreak that is rightfully ours), the more we can tolerate it.
4. The more we learn to tolerate the “hard” feelings, the more we can really be present for the great ones (Joy, Love, Gratitude, etc.)
My wish for this new year is to live it. Not just the parts that I never want to miss (moments with my family & friends, sitting across from the brave, brilliant clients who I could also call teachers, getting close enough to the shore to hear the ocean, drinking hot coffee, & the freshly cracked spine of a new book) but ALSO and especially the hard stuff. There is plenty out there ready to rob us of our time and our trust in ourselves—my prayer is that I begin to notice (more and sooner) when I am doing this to myself.
What do you wish for in this new year?
What would it mean to more fully show up for yourself, and in your life?
To trust yourself more, and to know your own strength?